On June 12-13, 2014, the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (ACBH) hosted the fourth annual “Bosnia and Herzegovina Days on Capitol Hill” event in Washington, D.C. This yearly event serves as a way for ACBH to introduce the Bosnian American diaspora leaders and advocates to the Washington D.C. policymaking community and to expand our joint efforts in advocating for a united, multiethnic, and democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
This year’s delegation participated in numerous high level meetings and attended an ACBH co-hosted lecture with the Congress of North American Bosniaks and the Emerging Democracies Institute titled: “100 Year Anniversary of World War I: The Balkan Perspective.” Distinguished historian, Dr. Marko Attila Hoare offered his expert insight into the causes of the Great War and its implications on Balkan history. Joining the ACBH Board Members, Honorary Board Member and Executive Director were Mr. Hamdija Custovic, President of Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB) from Charlotte, North Carolina; Mr. Eldin Elezovic, Vice President of CNAB from New York, New York; Dr. Hazim Fazlic, community Imam from Chicago, Illinios; Ms. Elmira Haracic, member of the BHeart women’s organization who represented the DC/VA metro area and Mr. Suad Tica, President of the Bosnian American Youth Association of Northeast Florida (BAYANEF) who represented the Jacksonville, Florida community. The participants began with a breakfast meeting at the ACBH office with guest speaker Mr. Avni Mustafaj, Executive Director of the National Albanian American Council (NAAC). Mr. Mustafaj informed the delegation of the importance of advocacy in Washington and offered lessons learned.
The participants continued their day in U.S. Congress where they met with Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16th), member of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia. The group expressed their gratitude to Congressman Kinzinger for his steadfast support and voiced their concerns over BiH’s lack of progress with NATO accession. Next, the participants were joined by Mr. Jonathan Moore, Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and his colleague Ms. Amy Flohr, Senior Desk Officer for BiH. The open dialogue luncheon included the Bosnian American advocates expressing their gratitude for the longstanding U.S. support towards BiH, especially the recent support by the U.S. government in the amount of $2.5 million of direct assistance for flooding relief. The participants also placed focus on current issues BiH is faced with and the efforts of the U.S. in assisting BiH on its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
The Bosnian American advocates started their second day in Washington with a White House tour where they were able to see and experience first hand the historic residence of the First Families and see the meeting place of world leaders. The tour was concluded with a meeting at the White House with members of the National Security Council. Next, the group met with Mr. Meto Koloski, President of the United Macedonian Diaspora who informed them of ways that the Macedonian diaspora communities affect change in Washington. The participants continued their second day in Washington with a meeting with H.E., Ambassador Jadranka Negodic and H.E., Mr. Adnan Hadrovic, Minister-Counselor at the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina where they discussed the importance of diaspora voting. To conclude the two day program, the group met with Mr. Bob Hand, Policy Advisor at the U.S. Helsinki Commission and a longstanding friend of BiH who took questions and informed the participants of the various ways the U.S. Congress supports BiH.
The “Bosnia and Herzegovina Days on Capitol Hill” event strives to promote BiH and ensure the continued strong relations between the United States and BiH. ACBH commends all the leaders and advocates that participated in the event and looks forward to collaborating and continuing to work together with U.S. policymakers and the Bosnian American communities in order to bring about the necessary reforms in BiH.